April 21, 2011

"Go have fun now"

(thanks to Roy for that advice! Glad to report a successful mission.)

My trip is drawing to a close and I look back on months of traveling and getting to know people in many ways along the road. In Mississippi I talked to a man on a train, who was trying to convince me that the government should never interfere with the economy because (quote) the market always works (end quote).There was Nicolas Cage starring in a brilliant subplot to my travels, where he almost assaulted my host in New Orleans at her workplace and now got arrested in recent days. Hopefully he gets his life in order! I have ridden a bike on Beale Street and across a university campus. Old friends and their families have provided me with food, shelter, dog walks, dance parties, tours to graveyards, and afternoon tea in the sun. My host in Austin showed me a place where he used to float along a river with his buddy on inflatable rafts, drinking beer. I went hiking with an extraordinary new friend, who I hadn't met until we shared the same room for two weeks all through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. In San Francisco I have connected with some gentle *g* people that I had only known via the internet. A podcast led me to a meditation center, where I got to know a peace activist, who gave me a place to stay. A blog led me to the house of an Iranian journalist, who is everything I had hoped for after having read her blog some years ago: warm, engaged, strong, and loving.

I have slept in tents, motels, on couches, on beds, on the floor, even in the back of my car. When I took along a hitch-hiker in Sonoma County, I was not murdered, and when I was hitch-hiking for a couple of miles in Flagstaff, I got to know a Texan couple, and a guy with a bed in the back of his van. I have not felt unsafe or unwelcome anywhere I went and can truly say that this is a hospitable nation. Certainly I will be back here.

After three months on the road the world has become smaller for me, more beautiful, and more colorful! When the world comes knocking on my door I will be sure to let it in and give it a big hug :)

April 11, 2011

California, the Golden State

The last part of my journey is in full swing!

Los Angeles has been different from what I expected. My image was of a spread-out dry city on flat terrain with a cloak of smog that only sometimes allows you to see the Hollywood letters in the distance. Nevertheless after a night on the train my friend and I arrived in a green bustling city of hills and completely different neighborhoods. In a couple of days I discovered the green variety of the Huntington Gardens and Schabarum Park (in West Covina, where our couchsurfer lived), the great architecture and art of the Getty Center high above the city, and the beachside beauty of Santa Monica and a sunset at Venice Beach.

One day was spent at the Universal Studios theme park, which is expensive but also great fun, from highspeed roller-coasters to brilliantly staged scenes straight from the movie Waterworld. We sat in the "soak zone" and left afterwards still dripping and laughing, happy about the warm sun quickly drying our clothes before the next ride.

Since parting ways with my trusty travel friend (Go Robeth!) I have been driving up the coast in my rental car and adventures lined up there as well. In San Luis Obispo I camped out in my car next to the beach and had a surf class with an ex-pro-surfer on Pismo Beach. Surfing is loads of fun and I look at the ocean differently now (tempted to jump in and always looking for the perfect wave)! If I am ever to live near a beach, one of the first things I would buy is a board and a wetsuit!

And now I have finally reached the Bay Area of San Francisco, the final destination of this trip. So far I have already found great friends (like Mary who is contagiously happy and generous in spite of having little herself), I have helped set up a volunteer fair, and gone on a daylong retreat at Insight Meditation Center with Gil Fronsdal. Now I have checked in at a hostel in downtown San Francisco and am ready to discover this beautiful place for the remaining two weeks.

While enjoying all the awesomeness of the last two weeks I have started to look forward to seeing my friends and family again! I hope all of you are well and happy!